Bayfront fire feature constructed of natural stone, Loveladies. Photograph by John Martinelli

By Annaliese Jakimides

Ever since Homo sapiens learned how to control fire some half million years ago, we have used it to cook, protect, warm, and soothe. Once limited by the setting of the sun, fire enabled us to function into the night. Although in the 21st century our technological advancements have provided us with a wealth of possibilities to satisfy all those needs and more, we still crave the feel of an open fire—the beauty of the flickering flame and its relaxing properties.

Perhaps it comes from all those centuries of gathering around campfires telling the stories of our lives. Around fire is where we have passed on our accomplishments and our dreams to the next generation and where we still do if we can. Reynolds Landscaping in Manahawkin is committed to continuing to make that possible. In addition to all the other visions of good living that Reynolds delivers are a plethora of fire features that create that very sense of pleasure and promise, all with Reynolds’ renowned site- and owner-specific awareness.

Where to locate a fire feature is determined by a family’s usage, the backyard living space, a home’s focal points, and the wind dynamics. “We need to know whether small children will be part of the mix, to analyze the site flow. It’s about asking the right questions—as most of our work is—and then listening,” says Mark Reynolds.

Circular fire feature surrounded by teak furniture. Brant
Beach. Photograph by Tanek Hood, Reynolds Landscaping

Sourcing all of their hardware (pans, burners, and ignition assemblies) from the most reputable company in the industry, they see safety as their number one priority. Everything else revolves around that—beauty, functionality and resilience. With about 40 units installed over the last 15 years, Reynolds has witnessed the evolution of the industry and worked closely with local towns to establish a standard for safety that is higher than in most other parts of the country.

Every unit has a remote switching system that enables electrical and gas ignition and disconnection, both for safety and convenience. “We can set these systems up in a variety of configurations,” says Reynolds. “If you want multiple steps for turning your fire pit on, we can do that; if you want just the flick of a switch to shut it down, we’re good, too.”

Almost 99% of their fire features operate with natural gas. Sometimes a remote location requires propane, or a customer prefers wood as the fire source but Reynolds explains, the move away from wood fires makes sense in our current-day communities where the impact of flying cinders could be devastating. We now have an alternative. Although most of the company’s fire features are square or round, they have also designed and installed rectangular units. This summer, not only are they working with a local artist on a linear one for a client but they are also creating an outside fireplace for another.

No matter the design, the ring of fire is normally between 12 and 18 inches, with a flame that is two feet high. The exterior is traditionally made of natural stone products, including Pennsylvania fieldstone, quartz, Travertine tile, and granite, to name a few. You can choose a stone veneer, river rock, or stack stone presentation, with a textured or smooth surface. The palette includes shades of pink, blue, black, gray, white, brown, and more. The combinations are extensive. Want it simple, rustic, or elegant? You’ve got it.

Once the location, design, and materials have been established, the base is built, always allowing for drainage. “But it’s important,” Reynolds says, “that we get a strong picture of how a family functions, because I guarantee you that you will be spending a lot of time here—more than you ever envisioned. So we want to get it right, in all ways.”

Reynolds wants whatever they create for you to do what it was intended to do for a very long time, so they have developed stainless steel covers to protect the systems, which also enable the fire features to act as coffee tables. They are one of only a few companies in the industry providing this service. Additionally, they custom design a winter cover for each unit.

In years to come when your grandchildren are sitting around laughing and telling stories with their children, it’s likely they could be sitting around the very same fire pit you will be relaxing around this summer and fall under these star-studded skies. The truth is that the Reynolds hallmark is all about continuity, family and the belief in the promise of a joyful future.

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